How "House of the Dragon" subtly set up another "Game of Thrones" spinoff

Hint: The name of a Stark direwolf also alluded to this story

Published August 26, 2022 6:30PM (EDT)

Emily Carey as Alicent Hightower and Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen in "House of the Dragon" (Ollie Upton / HBO)
Emily Carey as Alicent Hightower and Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen in "House of the Dragon" (Ollie Upton / HBO)

This story originally appeared on Winter is Coming.

The series premiere of "House of the Dragon" is here, and it's a doozy. The first ever successor series to "Game of Thrones" has gotten off to a resoundingly good start for HBO, already becoming the most successful premiere ever for the network. That's nothing to sneeze at, considering just how long HBO has been in the premium television game.

Yet while "House of the Dragon" is wowing critics and audiences (or scarring them beyond belief, depending on how you reacted to that one horrifying scene), it's already doing a bit of legwork to help set up the greater "Game of Thrones" cinematic universe. It's no secret that HBO has numerous spinoffs in development based on the works of George R.R. Martin. While "House of the Dragon" may end up being a good way to gauge audience appetites for more Westeros, it's already laid some very subtle groundwork for a future show.

There will be very mild spoilers below for the House of the Dragon series premiere, "The Heirs of the Dragon."

"House of the Dragon" teases another "Game of Thrones" spinoff

The series premiere of "House of the Dragon" introduces us to two of the show's main characters: heir apparent Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock), and her best friend and daughter of the Hand of the King, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey). Both Rhaenyra and Alicent are complex characters, with shades of Arya or Sansa or Cersei depending on how you squint at them. Their relationship will be at the core of this show.

During the premiere, the two girls are hanging around the Godswood in King's Landing while Alicent quizzes Rhaenyra on her histories. Specifically, Alicent is asking Rhaenyra questions about the Princess Nymeria, who sailed 10,000 ships away from her homeland by the River Rhoyne and eventually landed in Dorne. This is a fascinating easter egg because we know that one of the other "Game of Thrones" spinoffs that HBO has in development — working title" "10,000 Ships" — is about Nymeria and her odyssey.

Nymeria is a prominent historical figure in George R.R. Martin's world, and this mention on "House of the Dragon" isn't the first time she's been alluded to on screen. Back on "Game of Thrones," Arya Stark named her direwolf after the Rhoynish princess, and there were a handful of tiny mentions of the warrior princess at various points.

However, "House of the Dragon" is the first time that Nymeria's history was laid out so plainly for viewers. Here's Rhaenyra's accounting:

Princess Nymeria led her Rhoynar across the Narrow Sea on 10,000 ships to flee their Valyrian pursuers. She took Lord Mors Martell of Dorne to husband, and burned her own fleet off Sunspear to show her people that they were finished running.

Whether this was inserted into "House of the Dragon" to intentionally pave the way for "10,000 Ships" or it's just a fun easter egg because Rhaenyra is the sort of rebellious teenage girl who might look up to Nymeria, it still lets viewers know about this tale. Should HBO end up going through with "10,000 Ships," no doubt this scene will take on a much deeper meaning for fans.

"House of the Dragon" premieres new episodes every Sunday on HBO and HBO Max. As for the other "Game of Thrones" spinoffs, our watch continues.

By Daniel Roman

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